Hospital critics have their own agenda

The following editorial was published in The Daily Sun on Feb 27, 2023.

OUR POSITION: Critics of a Sarasota Memorial Hospital report on its COVID response seemed focused on political theories instead of what the report said.

A common theme among the people who criticized Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID-19 response report Tuesday was that questions, especially about the treatment of specific patients, weren’t answered.

Predictably, the report, prepared by an internal group of more than 70 people with analysis from an outside company, was called a cover-up. What’s needed to bring transparency and restore trust, the critics said, is a complete review by an independent, outside agency.

We have a question for them: Would that truly satisfy you? Because after Tuesday, we have our doubts.

Some people complained they weren’t included in a review of their loved ones’ treatment. Their only contact in that regard, they said, was being notified recently that it was found to comport with applicable standards of care.

That wasn’t what they were hoping to hear, and it’s understandable that they wouldn’t accept it. There are ways for them to try to seek vindication, and they should pursue them.

Other people, however, used the platform not to weigh in on SMH’s COVID response but to air grievances about the pandemic in general.

They advocated the use of ivermectin, which physicians at SMH were free to prescribe, Dr. Kirk Voelker said. Relying on studies showing its lack of efficacy, some declined to do so.

They said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols were killing people. That case should be made to Congress, said Board Member Britt Riner, who co-chaired the preparation of the report.

People claimed injuries from vaccination, something the report was not intended to address.

Among the most vocal critics were people who have no connection to SMH.

A woman talked about her 39-yearold son dying because he was denied ivermectin. It happened in Kentucky, Board Chair Tramm Hudson said later.

A woman who works in a hospital said she would face discipline if she badmouthed the vaccines. She’s from New Smyrna Beach, an internet search revealed.

They and others saw an opportunity to further their own personal and/or political agenda and took it.

We join the people who lamented the continuing politicization of a public health care emergency Tuesday.

At the outset, COVID was an unknown virus that was spreading rapidly, with severe, often deadly impacts. Scientists were simultaneously researching how to detect it, how to treat it and how to prevent it — building the plane as they were flying it, as the metaphor goes.

More than three years in, Voelker said, they still don’t have all the answers. But even though the virus is still mutating and spreading, far fewer people are hospitalized, and far fewer are dying.

We attribute that to medical science doing its job — changing as information improves. Hindsight isn’t available in the middle of a crisis, though, and there are no time machines.

We’re skeptical that another study would provide anyone closure regardless of who does it, and in particular wouldn’t satisfy the people who were present Tuesday with closed minds and open mouths, convinced they already know the “truth” whether it comports with reality or not.

Any report that didn’t confirm their beliefs 100% would just be part of the conspiracy and inspire them to continue their crusade, which seems intended to hurt the hospital, not help it improve.

Several people reminded doctors of their Hippocratic oath: Do no harm. The principle could apply to them equally well.

 Image Credits: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune